Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the United States, was recently the victim of a massive cyber attack—an attack that may have compromised the personal information of 143 million people.
The breach itself occurred between mid-May and July 2017 when cyber criminals gained access to sensitive data by exploiting a weak point in website software. As a result of the attack, sensitive information like Social Security numbers, birthdays, addresses and driver's license numbers were compromised. In addition, Equifax said 209,000 credit card numbers were stolen, including information from international customers in Canada and the United Kingdom.
The recent attack on Equifax is the third major cyber security threat the organization has experienced since 2015 and one of the largest risks to personally sensitive information in recent years. The attack is so severe, in fact, it’s likely that anyone with a credit report was affected.
If you are concerned that you may have been impacted by the breach, Equifax has set up a website to help individuals determine if any of their personal information may have been stolen. Once you have navigated to the website, complete the following steps:
From there, a dialogue box will pop up and indicate whether or not your information was lost in the hack. All U.S. customers will also be given the opportunity to sign up for TrustedID Premier, which is an Equifax service that includes identity theft insurance, credit reports, and a service that crawls the internet and alerts you if your Social Security number is posted somewhere online. This service will be free for one year for those who sign up by Nov. 21.
If you have been impacted by the breach, experts recommend engaging in a credit freeze. This effectively locks down your Social Security number on your credit report and prevents criminals from opening up new lines of credit under your name. For more information on credit freezes, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
It should be noted that it may not be obvious that you are a customer of Equifax, as the company gets its data from credit card companies, banks and lenders that report on credit activity. As such, it’s important to follow the appropriate steps and check to see if your information was compromised.
Additionally, you should review your online bank and credit card statements on a weekly basis. This will help you monitor any suspicious activity. Contact law enforcement officials if you believe criminals have used your stolen information in some way.
TWFG Insurance - Kelly Lee LLC will continue to monitor the Equifax cyber incident, providing any major updates as necessary.
Basic Preparedness Tips from https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes
Preparing Your Home
Hurricane Watch - conditions possible within the next 48 hrs.
Steps to take:
Hurricane Warning = conditions are expected within 36 hrs.
Steps to take:
What to do when a hurricane is 6 hours from arriving
What to do when a hurricane is 6-18 hours from arriving
Many U.S. car insurance companies use credit-based insurance scores to help determine risk. (Unless you live in California, Hawaii or Massachusetts, or where the practice has been barred.) Studies have shown that there is good reason to use credit based scoring in determining rates.
Credit-based insurance scores vs. credit scores.
Credit scores are determined based on information from your credit report and are used by lending institutions to determine how likely you are to repay a loan on time. Credit scores determine interest rates and loan qualifications.
Credit-based insurance scores don't factor personal information like your job, income history and gender. Car insurance companies use this information to help determine the likelihood of a future insurance claim.
Credit-based insurance scores work like this:
To establish eligibility for payment plans and to assist in determining insurance rates, most United States insurance companies use credit-based insurance scores along with your driving violations history, claims history, and other factors.
If your credit-based insurance score is high, you have an excellent driving history, and no claims on your record, you'll generally qualify for lower rates. Keep in mind, your score is only one of various factors used to calculate your premium. If your insurance score is excellent, but your driving history is not, you’ll probably be considered riskier to insure.
Why it’s used
First, we simply want to make sure you are not overpaying for auto insurance.
Additionally, research has revealed that credit scores can accurately predict accident potential. Statistical speaking, those with higher credit scores tend to get into fewer accidents and cost insurance companies less than their low scoring counterparts.
Kelly Lee Insurance
Car Insurance in Lake Charles, LA.
How can your eyes be affected by a solar eclipse?
Exposing your eyes to the sun without proper eye protection during a solar eclipse can cause “eclipse blindness” or retinal burns, also known as solar retinopathy. This exposure to the light can cause damage or even destroy cells in the retina (the back of the eye) that transmit what you see to the brain. This damage can be temporary or permanent and occurs with no pain. It can take a few hours to a few days after viewing the solar eclipse to realize the damage that has occurred.
What are the eye symptoms that can occur from looking at a solar eclipse without proper eye protection?
How to safely watch a solar eclipse:
The only time that you can safely view a solar eclipse without special equipment is during a total solar eclipse. This is when the moon completely covers the sun. It is never safe to look at a partial solar eclipse without proper safety equipment or techniques. During the very brief time the sun is in total solar eclipse it is safe to look at it, but do so with caution. Even during the total solar eclipse, the total eclipse may last only a short period of time, and if you are looking towards the sun as the moon moves away from blocking the sun, you might get a solar burn on your retina which can cause permanent damage to your eyes. Talk with your eye care professional to determine the best viewing option for you. Below are a few common ways to safely watch a solar eclipse:
This is the safest and most inexpensive way to watch a solar eclipse. This helps you avoid looking directly at the eclipse by using a projected image. This do-it-yourself project includes making a pinhole in a cardboard paper with the sun on one side and a piece of paper three feet away without obstruction to project the image on the other side. Keep in mind not to look through the pinhole at the sun.
Number 14 welder’s glass provides effective protection and can be found at a local welder’s supply store. This glass will reduce the harmful rays that are emitted during the eclipse. Do not use if there are any scratches or damage to the glass.
Aluminized mylar plastic sheets are available as eclipse vision glasses or can be cut and made into a viewing box. Do not use if there are any scratches or damage to the sheet.
Other ways to safely watch a solar eclipse is on television or at the planetarium.
How not to watch a solar eclipse. Be careful about how you watch a solar eclipse. It is not recommended to view it in the following ways:
Watching a solar eclipse on your smartphone camera can put you at risk of accidentally looking at the sun when trying to line up your camera. It could possibly also damage your smartphone camera. Don’t take the risk.
Never look at a solar eclipse through the optical viewfinder of a camera. It can damage your eyes in the same way as looking directly at it.
Unless specifically designed for viewing a solar eclipse, no filter is safe to use with any optical device (telescopes, binoculars, etc). All color film, black-and-white film that contains no silver, photographic negatives with images on them (x-rays and snapshots), smoked glass, sunglasses (single or multiple pairs), photographic neutral density filters and polarizing filters are unsafe filters to watch a solar eclipse. Also, solar filters designed for eyepieces that come with inexpensive telescopes are also unsafe. All of these items can increase your risk of damaging your eyes.
To read more about Prevent Blindness.org visit here:
Before you purchase a car, it’s a good idea to understand all the costs associated with the purchase of the vehicle — including the cost of automobile insurance.
Learning about how automobile insurance rates are determined will help you to navigate why rates vary and assist you with your auto buying decision. Factors that impact auto rates include the following:
Top Ways to Save on Your Auto Premium:
We’re Here to Help
Call our office today at (337) 656-2890 to learn more about all of our automobile insurance and personal risk management solutions.
Calcasieu Parish Schools System resumes next week and the National Safety Council would like to remind drivers of the following safety precautions.
Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians
According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they're walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. A few precautions go a long way toward keeping children safe:
If you're driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see. Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because usually they are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.
By exercising a little extra care and caution, drivers and pedestrians can co-exist safely in school zones.
Kelly Lee Insurance
Our Policy is Caring!
Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon and Attorney General Jeff Landry are encouraging victims of the flooding event this past weekend in New Orleans to be proactive vehicle consumers.
“In the aftermath of a natural disaster, it is important for consumers to be aware of the warning signs of a flood damaged vehicle,” said Landry. “If you are in the market to buy a used vehicle – be sure to inspect it carefully, looking at hidden parts or crevices to check for flood residue which are indicators of the vehicle having water damage. My office will not stand for fraud, especially following this flooding event that has negatively affected so many in New Orleans.”
“Even as we are preparing for the peak of hurricane season, the flooding in New Orleans this weekend is a sobering reminder that bad weather can happen at any time,” said Donelon. “If anyone affected by the flooding has questions or concerns about their insurance policies or how to file a claim, I urge them to contact the Department. We have staff standing by to answer questions as our citizens start the process of cleaning up and taking stock of damage.”
Attorney General Jeff Landry offers the following tips to recognize a flood-damaged vehicle:
About the Louisiana Department of Insurance: The Louisiana Department of Insurance works to improve competition in the state’s insurance market while assisting individuals and businesses with the information and resources they need to be informed consumers of insurance. As a regulator, the LDI enforces the laws that provide a fair and stable marketplace and makes certain that insurers comply with the laws in place to protect policyholders. You can contact the LDI by calling 1-800-259-5300 or visiting www.ldi.la.gov.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns that August through October is historically peak hurricane season and to remain alert and prepared. NOAA has created a Hurricane Survival Guide video to help you with preparedness. Please follow the link below.
Kelly lee Insurance
Our Policy is Caring!
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Office of Chief Counsel has recently issued several information letters regarding the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual and employer mandate penalties. These letters clarify that:
Employer shared responsibility penalties continue to apply for applicable large employers (ALEs) that fail to offer acceptable health coverage to their full-time employees (and dependents); and
Individual mandate penalties continue to apply for individuals that do not obtain acceptable health coverage (if they do not qualify for an exemption).
These letters were issued in response to confusion over President Donald Trump’s executive order directing federal agencies to provide relief from the burdens of the ACA.
These information letters clarify that the ACA’s individual and employer mandate penalties still apply. Individuals and ALEs must continue to comply with these ACA requirements, including paying any penalties that may be owed.
According to National Safety Council Injury Facts 2017, about 146,571 people died from unintentional injury-related deaths in 2015. That's 146,571 times someone's ordinary day turned tragic.
Unintentional deaths are at an all-time high. Often, these tragedies happen when least expected – while doing simple chores at home, while on vacation, or simply driving across town – and sadly, mostly avoidable. The National Safety Council encourages everyone to be aware of hazards related to leisure and recreational activities and take proper safety precautions. Below are a list of top causes of unintentional injury and death in our homes and our communities.
In 2011, poisonings overtook motor vehicle crashes for the first time as the leading cause of unintentional-injury-related death for all ages combined. Gases, chemicals, and other substances cause poisoning deaths; however, prescription drug overdose is the leading cause. Every year, poison control centers receive about 2.2 million calls from people seeking help from accidental poisoning.
#2: Motor Vehicle Crashes
Motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of unintentional-injury-related death. Driving under the influence, distracted driving, speeding and inexperienced drivers are all factors that lead to the #1 cause of death for children and young adults ages 5 to 24, the #2 cause of death for adults 25+ and for toddlers, according to the Centers for Disease Control. They are also the #1 cause of workplace fatalities.
In 2015 more than 33,000 people died in falls. This is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional-injury-related death across all age groups, but it's the #1 cause of death for those 65 and older, according to Injury Facts 2017. Aging itself, is not the cause of falls. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided the following Fall Facts:
#4: Choking and Suffocation
Suffocation is the 4th leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for all age groups, choking on food or other objects is the primary cause. While suffocation is the 2nd leading cause of unintentional injury death for people 87 and older, mechanical suffocation is the #1 cause of death for infants. Mechanical suffocation means the infant loses the ability to breathe due to smothering or strangulation by bed clothes, plastic bags or similar materials. Learn more about sleep safety and suffocation prevention at SafeKids.org.
Excluding boating accidents, nearly 10 people drown every day. It's the 5th leading cause of unintentional-injury-related death across all ages, and the #1 cause of death for children ages 1 to 4, primarily due to infants and toddlers falling into pools or left unattended in bathtubs. The importance of water safety cannot be overstated. According to an American Red Cross survey, only 56% of adults who say they can swim are able to perform five critical water-safety skills that could save their lives.
These skills include:
For a printable list of best practices and Tips for Child and Adult drowning prevention click here.